Carbon and nitrogen substrate utilization in the marine bacterium Sphingopyxis alaskensis strain RB2256

Williams T. J. , Ertan H., Ting L., Cavicchioli R.

ISME JOURNAL, vol.3, no.9, pp.1036-1052, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 3 Issue: 9
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/ismej.2009.52
  • Journal Name: ISME JOURNAL
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1036-1052
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


Sphingopyxis alaskensis is a marine member of the Alphaproteobacteria that is adapted to heterotrophic growth under nutrient-depleted (oligotrophic) conditions. S. alaskensis strain RB2256 is an ultramicrobacterium (cell volume <0.1 mu m(3)), and has a genome size larger than that of the ultramicrobacterium 'Candidatus Pelagibacter ubique' HTCC1062 (SAR11 clade of Alphaproteobacteria): 3.35 versus 1.31 Mbp. In this study, we investigate the carbon and nitrogen metabolism of strain RB2256 using an integrated approach that combines growth and enzyme assays, proteomics and genome analysis. S. alaskensis is able to use specific amino acids and putrescine as a sole carbon and nitrogen source, and higher energy-yielding substrates such as glucose and trehalose as carbon sources. Alanine, in particular, emerges as a very important substrate in S. alaskensis metabolism. In an oligotrophic environment where competition for nutrients is intense, our data support a simplified metabolism for S. alaskensis in which the fate of certain substrates is constrained, especially at the intersections of central carbon and nitrogen metabolism, in order to ensure optimal disposition of scarce resources. This is the first investigation of central metabolism for an oligotrophic ultramicrobacterium that possesses a relatively large genome size. In contrast to the behavior so far observed for SAR11 oligotrophic bacteria, S. alaskensis shows a physiological capacity to exploit increases in ambient nutrient availability and thereby achieve high-population densities. The ISME Journal (2009) 3, 1036-1052; doi:10.1038/ismej.2009.52; published online 21 May 2009